On the Way Home…Undiscovered South Carolina

Just recently I was on the way home from a visit to Myrtle Beach State Park and decided to take a side trip. There was still a lot of daylight left and I was not far from Woods Bay. Off to the swamp I went. A hot, muggy day in the swamp didn’t disappoint- a small alligator made sure my walk down the boardwalk wasn’t without excitement. The reflections of cypress trees draped with Spanish moss on the still black water make it easy to leave the fast paced world behind and take time to reflect and take in the power of nature. One great visit inspires yet another one, so I headed off to Lee State Park. The trip to Lee did not disappoint and was topped off by getting caught in a classic South Carolina summer thunderstorm. I was wet but refreshed as steam rose up from the parched earth below.

While it’s hard to beat a day in the park, sometimes side trips on the way home are just as magical.  South Carolina is full of great adventures and a special stop on the way home can close out a perfect vacation or weekend at a park.  The trip from Woods Bay to Lee was highlighted with an inspiring side trip through undiscovered South Carolina.  Farm land with corn fields separated only by the winding asphalt of the road that guides me to my next destination, but not before it has transported me to my childhood and some great memories. 

Along the way I thought of the many great places I have visited on the way home from my park visits and travels throughout the state. The long drive to Hunting Island State Park is always made a bit easier with the knowledge of  what the destination holds.  The park is a remarkable treasure of our state with its unique beach, maritime forest and historic. On the way home, don’t take the interstate, take Old Sheldon Church Road and stop at the ruins of Old Sheldon Church. From its first service in 1757 to today, the “church” is a special place and worth the stop. Convenient parking allows you to walk the grounds and feel the sight. Lots of opportunities for photography, memories and time for reflection.  Just 237 miles away 

is yet another special place on the way home.  Often on my way home from trips to Table Rock, Caesars Head and Jones Gap I’ll travel down Scenic Highway 11 and take a left to the Poinsett Bridge Heritage Preserve, site of the historic Poinsett Bridge.  The bridge, a stone structure, is the oldest bridge in South Carolina. Built in 1820, the bridge still stands and provides yet another spot to take in the beauty of our state.  The bridge is named for Joel R. Poinsett, who was the director of the SC Board of Public Works during the design of the road. The graceful 14-foot Gothic arch stone bridge spans the Little Gap Creek and is worth a stop.  

If you are coming back from Oconee State Park, a quick turn left and a trip to Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel awaits. Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel is the remains of an attempt to  link the port of Charleston to the cities of the Midwest by rail. The Civil War brought the construction to an end, but leaves behind a great afternoon adventure for visitors. A short trail leads from Stumphouse Mountain to Issaqueena Falls, a beautiful 200-foot cascade that’s worth the short walk.

Then there are the cotton fields in the fall just outside of Elloree on the way home from Santee, and there’s… well, you get the picture. There is so much to see on the way home from your next park visit. Or use the parks as a base camp to visit and discover “undiscovered” South Carolina!


See you in the parks!

Phil